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Bank On It

In the early days of bioethics, the dominant paradigm was about finding ways to slow down the application and use of emerging technologies. While some still cling to this paradigm, the ethics of information technologies applied to biobanks and electronic health records is producing a major shift in thinking.

Progress in Bioethics

The 2005 culmination of the legal battle over Terri Schiavo’s life-sustaining treatment was as a flash point for public discussions about bioethics. While the field encompasses a wide range of complex and controversial subjects, debates over these issues often remain [...]


The Areas of Our Expertise

Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously suggested that science and religion deal with non-overlapping areas of knowledge. The idea is useful for quelling debates about creationism, but it’s a mistake when developing public policy for the life sciences.

More Stem Cells Lines Approved, Process Proves Smart

The National Institutes of Health have added 27 more human embryonic stem cell lines to the 13 approved two weeks ago. These new lines come from Harvard University and have some interesting stipulations attached to them that illustrate the diligence [...]

Your Commission, Should You Choose to Accept It (And We Do!)

Yesterday President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The Commission’s Chair will be Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania and a political theorist. Its Vice Chair will be James [...]

Synchronized Disclosure

Last week, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors issued a new policy for the transparent disclosure of conflicts of interest for the authors of papers published by journals in the consortium. A coalition of advocates have been pushing for [...]

Nobel Bioethics

Two of the Nobel Prize winners announced yesterday for Medicine or Physiology have something in common besides their groundbreaking work on how cells copy chromosomes. Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Carol W. Greider both served on presidential bioethics commissions. Blackburn, of [...]

The Coolest Platform Raises the Hardest Questions

So who is speaking here, an ethicist, a scientist, or a policymaker? It’s very hard for me to have a conversation about these issues, because people adopt incredibly defensive postures…The scientists on one side and civil-society organizations on the other. [...]


History Seen Through a Test Tube

In spite of the issues raised by the birth of Nayda Suleman’s octuplets, we should not lose sight of the pioneering IVF research that laid the ground work for a scientific triumph that has helped millions of infertile couples for over 30 years.

Web Tools Afford Patients Active Role in Research

Sarah Arnquist, reporting for The New York Times, tells a moving personal story that captures the hope permeating some of the projects now breaking down barriers between patients, research participants, and scientists. Her hook is the quest of Amy Farber, [...]


Autonomous Contraception

A recent discovery might open the door to an effective male contraceptive drug, a technology that could have been developed decades ago, were it not for social factors that enable women but not men to effectively regulate their fertility outside of sexual activity and without their partner’s participation or knowledge.


Commissions on a Mission

If the Obama administration hopes to move a new bioethics commission beyond the culture wars that embroiled much of the Bush council’s work, substantial efforts will be necessary to bring together now-divided bioethicists for pragmatic discussion.